Minnesota legislature: 8 key changes to state ESST leave law


Changes are already in effect

On May 24, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill (H.F. No. 5247, Chapter 127) amending the state's Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Act. The law became effective January 1, 2024, and the changes became effective May 25.

Eight changes include, but are not limited to:

  1. More employees excluded. In addition to independent contractors, firefighters, elected officials, and farm employees are also excluded from the definition of "employee."
  2. More employees included. Employees are those who work at least 80 hours per year in Minnesota, and those who are expected to do so.
  3. Added reason for leave. Employees may now take ESST leave to make arrangements for or attend funeral services or a memorial, or to address financial or legal matters that arise after the death of a family member.
  4. Safety leave documentation. If employees are unable to get documentation of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking in a reasonable time or without added expense, then reasonable documentation can include a written statement from employees showing that they are using or used leave for a qualifying reason, such as for safety purposes.
  5. Smallest increment. Now, ESST leave may be used in the same time increment for which employees are paid, except for leave that's less than 15-minute increments. On the flip side, employers may not require leave use in more than four-hour increments.
  6. Informing employees. At the end of each pay period, employers must give each employee, in writing or electronically, the employee's total number of ESST hours that:
    • Are available to the employee for use, and
    • Were used during the pay period.
  7. Weather exceptions. Employees may not use ESST for weather-related events if their work duties require them to respond to a weather event and they are a firefighter, peace officer, 911 telecommunicator, correctional facility guard, or public employee with a commercial driver's license (the latter under certain circumstances).
  8. More generous policies. All paid time off and other paid leave available to employees in excess of the smallest amount required by the law for absences from work due to personal illness or injury, but not including short-term or long-term disability or other salary continuation benefits, must meet or exceed the minimum standards and requirements for ESST use.

Key to remember: 

Employers with employees in Minnesota must comply with the new changes to the state’s Earned Safe and Sick Time law.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


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